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Live Export: Following the Paper Trail
by The Maritime Executive
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

When thousands of sheep died of heat stress on the Awassi Express, there was no public outcry, no public apology and no shocked politicians.

These responses came a long time after the event when 60 Minutes aired whistleblower footage showing the livestock dying, sometimes bogged in feces. More footage, “Boiled Alive,” deemed so confronting that commercial television would not show it, was aired by Fairfax Media shortly after.

Up until then, the incident had not gained notoriety - higher mortality voyages happen; they have done since the Australian live export industry began decades ago.

The investigation into the Awassi Express high mortality voyage to the Middle East for Emanuel Exports wasn't hidden; it remains publicly available on the Department of Agriculture's website.

Yet, now, for the third time this year, the Department has been accused of covering up what happens on live export ships and how it deals with it.

The first alleged cover-up was claimed by the RSPCA because, after six months of battling to obtain onboard observer reports via Freedom of Information requests, the reports provided were heavily redacted. Observers were placed on board livestock carriers departing Australia in the aftermath of the Awassi Express outcry.

The second alleged cover-up was claimed by Australian Greens Senator and Spokesperson for Animal Welfare, Dr. Mehreen Faruqi, after she revealed documents she said showed that the Department had a role in editing the post-outcry review of its own performance as a regulator of the live export industry - the “Moss Review.”

Now, a third alleged cover-up is claimed by veterinary association Vets Against Live Export. The organization says that the very limited number of Department-published summaries of the independent observer reports don't include details deemed unfavorable to the industry and, only the first one (report 10) uses the words “heat stress” in relation to the livestock despite independent observer comments that indicate that heat stress occurred and even led to livestock fatalities. “The summaries have been whitewashed,” says spokeswoman Dr. Sue Foster, “and the whitewashing of heat stress seems to have occurred after the first round of information was released publicly.

“The Department of Agriculture has covered up vital information and in doing so has deceived the government which continues to allow voyages to the Middle East in May,” says Foster. The industry has already decided to self-regulate and, temporarily at least, stop sheep exports from Australia's winter to the Middle East summer (June - August).

Foster notes that the observers used different panting scores to assess heat stress and that some observers made comments that would indicate that they did not have adequate knowledge about sheep on which to base their conclusions.

Vets Against Live Export is attempting to clarify the paper trail by publishing its reviews of the discrepancies along with the independent observer reports and the government summaries.

Foster is concerned that of 153 voyages for 2018, the Department has only chosen to publicly list independent observer summaries from 23 voyages for the year. Of those 23 voyages, summaries are only available for 15. One of the missing summaries is from a voyage in May on the Al Shuwaikh, for which the independent observer has already submitted a report.

Foster notes that the official mortality rate for live exported sheep in 2018 was 0.61 percent. Out of the eight voyages involving sheep that have reports available, only one exceeded the average (the May voyage that is yet to have a Department summary released for the Al Shuwaikh that had a mortality rate of 0.88 percent). The next highest mortality in the available reports is 0.53 percent.

“As all independent observer voyages apart from one are below the average mortality rate for sheep in 2018, clearly the public is not being given reports for a substantial number of voyages with higher mortalities. Unless these voyages all occurred prior to the independent observer program, there appears to have been selection bias in the reports released to the public,” alleges Foster.

Citing examples of other information that didn't appear in Department summary reports, Foster notes that ewes sourced for export as slaughter and feeder animals must be certified not to be pregnant, yet lambings occurred on number of voyages. “These lambings were not necessarily noted in the summary at all despite the fact that a breach of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock had occurred,” she said. “In addition, one official Department summary report stated the lambs left the vessel with their mothers in strong condition. The original observer report however documents that three of the six lambs died on board.”

The Moss review found that the department was “lacking to the required extent” the characteristics of a good regulator; that it employed protocols that “can lead to poor investigative outcomes” and that it was “unable to report the outcomes of investigations in a timely manner.”The review also highlighted instances where former staff in the animal welfare branch of the Department allegedly had their reports “revised or redrafted to dilute or expunge findings which adversely reflected on the regulatory framework.”

“In that light, it is evident that nothing has changed,” says Foster.

This is not the first time that Vets Against Live Export has attempted to set the record straight. It was Vets Against Live Export that noticed that the Department had lowered a 2016 Emanuel Exports' high mortality voyage figure from 4.36 percent in the initial parliamentary report to 2.51 percent and complained to the Chief Veterinary Officer. The Moss Review cited this example and commented that: “It is noted that the department [subsequently] agreed that the true mortality figure for this voyage was in excess of four percent, the figure in the parliamentary report given as 2.51 percent.”

Vets Against Live Export claims to provide much-needed transparency on the live export trade, but the industry itself is now highlighting the need for more transparency - even releasing it's own onboard footage.

Since the public outcry over the Awassi Express voyage, exporter Emanuel Exports had its license to export Australian livestock revoked by the Department. Since losing its license, the company has hired a veterinarian as compliance officer, has indicated it's continued commitment to the industry and has launched The Sheep Collective to provide transparent information about the trade.

Whether or not the company applies for and regains its export license remains to be seen.

The reports discussed in this article are available here.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against USS Cole Victims
by The Maritime Executive
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In an 8-1 ruling issued Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court revoked a judgement of $315 million for victims of the USS Cole attack because the plaintiffs' lawyers had sent the lawsuit to the wrong address.

The decision hinged on the question of whether the plaintiffs had properly served the Sudanese government, the defendant in the suit. In 2010, the victims' lawyers sent the paperwork for the lawsuit to the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.; this was improper, the court ruled, because it should have been sent to Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The court noted that under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA), a foreign state may be served for a lawsuit with a letter “to the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state concerned." Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito found that "most naturally read, [this] requires that a mailing be sent directly to the foreign minister’s office in the minister’s home country."

The court acknowledged that while this decision was in line with the text of the law, it might not satisfy some observers' sense of justice. "There are circumstances in which the rule of law demands adherence to strict requirements even when the equities of a particular case may seem to point in the opposite direction," wrote Alito. 

The Supreme Court's decision agreed with the Trump administration's position. The Justice Department encouraged the court to rule against the victims because the U.S. State Department's embassies abroad typically reject judicial notices, and a decision allowing these notices to be delivered in the United States could affect how U.S. consulates are treated by other governments. 

The victims objected on patriotic grounds. "Given this administration's solicitude for veterans, its decision to side with a state sponsor of terrorism, against men and women who are seeking to recover for grievous injuries suffered in the service of our country, is inexplicable and distressing," the plaintiffs wrote. 

Autonomous Collision Avoidance Tested Using Damen Crew Boat
by The Maritime Executive
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A series of autonomous operations trials were held on the North Sea on March 19 and 20, about five nautical miles off the coast of Den Helder in the Netherlands. SeaZip 3, a Damen Fast Crew Supplier 2610 Twin Axe vessel from SeaZip Offshore Services, was outfitted with collision avoidance technology and took part in several nautical scenarios to determine how the vessel would interact with seagoing traffic. 

The trials are part of the Joint Industry Project Autonomous Shipping, a two-year research project started in 2017. 11 scenarios were run in which SeaZip 3 interacted with two other vessels, Octans, a training vessel of the Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz, and Guardian, an Emergency Towage Vessel operated by The Netherlands Coastguard. These scenarios are the outcome of research by Technical University of Delft, MARIN and TNO. The scenarios were first tested in the MARIN simulator center in Wageningen.

The autonomous system provided by Robosys Automation, connected to the onboard autopilot and machinery control system, performed evasive maneuvers safely, but it was concluded that further development of autonomous systems is needed, to cope with complex marine traffic situations in a more efficient way.

The Joint Industry Project is supported by a broad consortium of stakeholders: shipping companies SeaZip Offshore Service, Fugro, and the Dutch Pilotage organization, Damen Shipyards and Feadship, naval architects DEKC Maritime, technology suppliers Bosch Rexroth, Robosys Automation, knowledge institutions MARIN, TNO, Technical University of Delft, classification society Bureau Veritas, maritime academies Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz – NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam Mainport Institute (STC & Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences) and project coordinator Netherlands Maritime Technology. The Dutch government is represented by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Ministry of Defence (Defence Materiel Organisation). It is partly funded by the TKI-Maritiem allowance of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

SeaZip 3 flies the Netherlands flag and is classed by Bureau Veritas.

Report: U.S. Offshore Wind a $70 Billion Opportunity for Supply Chain
by The Maritime Executive
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The U.S.'s burgeoning offshore wind industry, projected to generate nearly 20GW of power in seven East Coast states by 2030, presents a nearly $70 billion CAPEX revenue opportunity to businesses in the U.S. offshore wind supply chain.

That's according to a new white paper by the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW) with analysis by the Renewables Consulting Group. Among key industry components required for such a utility-scale build-out of U.S. offshore wind include: 

• More than 1,700 offshore wind turbines and towers $29.6 billion
• More than 1,750 offshore wind turbine and substation foundations $16.2 billion
• More than 5,000 miles of power export, upland and array cables $10.3 billion
• More than 60 onshore and offshore substations $ 6.8 billion
• A wide range of marine support, insurance and project management activities $ 5.3 billion 

In addition to the 1.6GW of offshore wind farms already contracted to supply power, contracts are expected to be signed for approximately 17GW of additional projects as a result of state commitments in the period 2020-2030. This brings the total forecast amount of contracted offshore wind power between 2020 and 2030 to 18.6GW. The study details these rising state commitments through 2030: New York, 7.7GW (9GW by 2035), New Jersey, 3.5GW, Massachusetts, 3.2GW, Connecticut, 2GW, Maryland, 1.2GW, Rhode Island, 1GW, and Virginia, 12 megawatts.  

"America's offshore wind industry is taking off, and what people see now is just the tip of the iceberg," said Stephanie McClellan, study author and Director of SIOW, at the University of Delaware.

Randall Luthi, President of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), said: "NOIA has long advocated for all-of-the-above energy and new offshore energy growth in America. Our members look forward to participating in the massive opportunity presented by offshore wind.”

The first U.S. offshore wind farm was commissioned off Block Island, Rhode Island (30MW) by Deepwater Wind in 2016. Gulf Island Fabrication constructed the foundations for the five turbines at the wind farm, and Bill Blanchard, Senior Vice President, Business Development, said: "Five foundations down, 1,750 more to go. That's the kind of business opportunity the offshore energy industry can get excited about." 

MHI Vestas Offshore Wind plans to install 84 of its new 9.5MW turbines in Massachusetts' 800MW Vineyard Wind project, which will be America's first utility-scale offshore wind farm. 

Bids in the December 2018 Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's auction for new offshore wind Massachusetts leases reached a record $405 million. 

Viking Sky: Hull Not Damaged, Cooling Water Inlets Not Clogged
by The Maritime Executive
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Norwegian Maritime Authority has confirmed that the Viking Sky did not suffer any hull damage when she lost power on Saturday off the Norwegian coast. Divers have confirmed there is no damage below the waterline of the vessel and that the cooling water inlets were not clogged.

The Authority inspected the vessel on Monday but says it is not yet clear what caused the blackout that led to hundreds of passengers being airlifted from the vessel before she was towed to port at Molde.

“It is too soon to draw any conclusions on what may have caused the ship to lose its engine output outside Hustadvika Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless, it is a fact that there has been a blackout, and we yet not been able to determine the cause of this blackout. So far however, it has been established that when the incident had occurred, the competency and efforts of the crew played an important role in the fortunate outcome,” said the Authority in a statement.

The incident is also being investigated by classification society Lloyd's Register, the Norwegian police and the Norwegian Accident Investigation Board. The U.S. and the United Kingdom consider they are substantially interested states and will participate in the investigation with their respective accident investigation branches.

The cargo vessel Hagland Captain went to the aid of Viking Sky but also lost propulsion and the crew were airlifted off. The vessel was towed to Averøy where it will be inspected by the classification society DNV GL. As far as the Norwegian Maritime Authority knows, the vessel has not touched ground, but this will be determined as part of the classification society’s follow up. The vessel is currently being unloaded.

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